SEA Conference

Catherine and I were speakers at the 16th Annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference. I spoke on a panel about portfolios and Catherine spoke about social media marketing. Together we sat on a panel about the pros and cons of freelancing. Over the two days we mingled, did some portfolio reviews, met a number of talented students, and had some great conversations with our fellow presenters. SEACover By far the presentation that was the most interesting to us was the one we did together on “Our Life In The Visual Arts.” We covered it all- going all the way back to our first awkward promotional pieces and business cards. We talked about what it’s like to work together as a team, and how we take care of marketing, billing, and finding new clients. It was fun for the both of us to look back to where we started and how far we’ve come. And I hope it was helpful to the students to see some of the mistakes we made and how we learned from them. Self Employment in the Arts Conference

Santo Domingo

Yes, of course there are other things to photograph in the Dominican Republic besides baseball! I especially enjoyed the Colonial Zone or Ciudad Colonial in Santo Domingo. The shopping options do lean on the “touristy” side, but you can still have fun looking around. There are numerous cultural places to explore, including the ruins of the Hospital of San Nicolás de Bari. Construction began in 1503, making it the first hospital built in the Americas.Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Catherine and I spent a few days hanging out on the beach in Boca Chica. The sunsets were wonderful, and we enjoyed some of the tasty local cuisine. Fish that is cooked “Boca Chica Style” is a deep-fried plate of awesomeness. This isn’t a secluded spot with all-inclusive resorts. Boca-Chica is full of noise and activity. If you enjoy people-watching, and trying fresh coconuts that people are selling on the beach, this is the place for you. Sunset in Boca Chica, Dominican RepublicSanto Domingo, Dominican Republic One of my favorite locations was the ruins of Monasterio de San Francisco. There are some occasional Sunday afternoon cultural events and concerts here, but you will often find that the gate is locked when you show up on a random weekday. However, if you are persistent, and have 5 bucks or so to tip the person watching the gate, there is a good chance you can get inside. This was the first monastery built in the Americas, started in 1508. I visited here on two separate days and came away with some amazing images. Ruins of Monasterio de San Francisco, Santo Domingo, Dominican R

Baseball Crazy

Dominican Republic BaseballI learned on a recent trip that few places in the world are as nuts about baseball as the Dominican Republic. The subject comes up often in conversation (even with the guy delivering room service.) Only later did I realize that I should have looked up to see exactly which Dominican players are on the Chicago teams, because everyone wanted to discuss it. Dominican Republic BaseballDominican-baseball-3 Every neighborhood has a baseball field or two, some in better shape than others. These photos are from an area on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. Apparently some of the older boys were already being scouted by major league teams. Dominican Republic Baseball I was told that around one forth of all the players on minor league US teams are from the Dominican Republic. I probably should have gotten an autograph or two in case I was photographing a future Albert Pujols. For now, it was more than enough to watch them enjoying a simple game of Saturday afternoon baseball. Dominican Republic Baseball Dominican-baseball-6

Upcoming Speaking Engagement

Catherine and I will be speaking at the 16th Annual Self Employment In The Arts conference coming up on Feb 26th & 27th at the Lisle Hilton. The conference is mainly for people just starting out in the creative arts. There will be musicians, painters, actors, writers, etc. Of course we’ll be focusing on photography and graphic design, but that’s only a part of it. We will also talk about what it’s like to run a business, have a plan in place, and work together as a team. SEA-ad Many people starting out a career in a creative area have the necessary skills to be a talented artist, but they fail when they attempt to make a living at it. We try our best to help others understand how to turn their passions into reality. The journey isn’t easy, and it means you will have to learn a few things about sales and marketing. But it’s so rewarding when you finally have a successful business and still enjoy what you do.

The SEA Conference is a great place to learn from your peers and network with people in other disciplines that might be experiencing some of the same challenges you are. If you are a student, recent graduate, or are just starting out a new business, please look into attending. We hope to see you there! Learn more about the Self Employment in the Arts Conference here:

Bar Association

A photo composite I did for the DuPage County Bar Association magazine “DCBA Brief” DCBA-Brief-feb-Cover-2015.indd The original title of the lead article was “Rivers Of Spending”, which is why the Chicago river was replaced with money. But after the cover was approved, the story title changed. Meh, what can you do? I still think it’s an interesting image.

Shuttle Reflections

I had Shuttles on the brain today. It was 30 years ago that the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened, and I still remember every detail of that day. I was a student at Cocoa Beach High School, where we all had some connection to NASA. Almost everyone had a family member that either worked at the Space Center, or for a company that was connected to it in a roundabout way. Space Shuttle STS 133 Discovery And today I had lunch with my friend Cathy- she was the coordinator for the Space Shuttle project I worked on for several years. It brought back a bunch of great memories from the adventures we had. STS134-Endeavour_sm I also thought about the thousands and thousands of photos I took during that project. I decided to take a look through my archives and pull out a few that I don’t think I’ve ever shown anyone. Only a handful of photographers get a spot on the roof at the Vehicle Assembly Building. I’m the second person from the left in the image below. Fortuntely I got to photograph two of the shuttle launches from this unique location. STS133-rooftop After a launch, we had to wait around in the NASA Press Room for the clearance to go collect our remote cameras from around the launchpad. Below is what it looks like hours after liftoff. The only lights out there come from the pad and the Rotating Service Structure. Otherwise, it’s endless miles of pitch black swamps and sand. It’s quite majestic lit up in the dark like that. Launchpad_sm1 And I’m not sure why I never shared this particular photo. It’s an early morning image from April 17th, 2012. The Space Shuttle Discovery is leaving Cape Canaveral for the very last time. I know that looks like water in the background. But it was actually morning fog in the marshland around the Cape. Space Shuttle Discovery I haven’t sat down and gone through any Shuttle photographs in a long time. It was fun looking at some of the behind-the-scenes shots I have. I’ll have to share some of those the next time I get nostalgic.

Kayaking In Chile

I saw the unfortunate news on TV a few weeks ago that the co-founder of North Face died of hypothermia in a kayaking accident in Chile. The story really hit home because I was at that very moment downloading photos I just took while kayaking in Chile. JeffreyKayak1 I could understand the hypothermia part. As you can see in the above image, my hands were wet and felt like ice cubes. And if I got into trouble here, it would have been a long time before help would arrive. There was absolutely no cell phone coverage. Plus, it was a three hour ride up a bumpy, dust-covered dirt trail into the snow topped Andes Mountains. I have some crazy GoPro footage of this drive that I’ll hopefully have time to assemble soon. Andes1 Andes4 The water was freezing, and the strong winds continually pushed my kayak away from shore. We got the photos we needed, but I was soaked, tired, and felt like an popsicle. Unfortunately, the way the schedule worked on this trip, we needed to head straight from this adventure to the airport to catch a flight. Andes2 I changed clothes in the vehicle as we bounced back down from the mountains, packing my wet items in plastic bags I brought along. Luckily the plane was mostly empty so I didn’t have to stink up the poor person that would have been sitting next to me. Andes5

Moscow

While I was in Moscow Travel+Leisure Magazine announced that the 2015 Unfriendliest City in the World is… Moscow, of course. A quick shopping trip or two will confirm that the reputation is somewhat deserved. But not everyone was a sourpuss, and the city was actually more exciting than I expected. Moscow-1 There is a new, modern downtown area that is mostly empty and worth avoiding. The classic spots like Gorky Park and Red Square are still where the action is. St Petersburg, Russia The area around St Basil’s is now one of my favorite places for people-watching. I started off photographing the architecture of the Cathedral, but soon found myself documenting the swirling circus of selfie-sticks. If you ever want to see a slide show of tourist behavior in the wild, just get in touch. St Petersburg, Russia A spot that is a little off the beaten path is Fallen Monument Park. It’s a loose collection of statues, signage, and symbols from the old Soviet area. Moscow- fallen monument park Yes, I did take a tour of Lenin’s Tomb. The line to get in is quite long in the morning, but it was worth the effort just for the spectacle of the whole thing. It was creepier than I anticipated, and handled with a deathly seriousness. I definitely didn’t take any photos because there were guards posted every 10 feet, looking to pounce upon over-eager photographers. Sunset over the Moskva River in Moscow

SkyRise 2015

SkyRise1This is the 7th year that Catherine and I have been lucky enough to be the official photographers for SkyRise, the tower climb that benefits the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. This past Sunday morning, thousands of people walked or ran up the 103 flights of the Willis Tower in Chicago. SkyRise2 It’s a unique fundraiser that always has a few dozen inspirational stories throughout the day. Along with all the regular participants there are many current and former patients that do the climb, including Senator Mark Kirk. There are also teams of firefighters that walk all the way to the top wearing all their gear to honor the responders that died during 9-11.
SkyRise3 SkyRise is a difficult thing to photograph from a technical perspective. The harsh morning sun shines in at the finish line on the top floor. That blinding light is contrasted with the dark stairwells. If you’re a photographer, imagine how hard it is to capture good images of hot sweaty people quickly moving past you in cramped, concrete stairs. It helps to have a very wide lens, and I bounce my flash up backwards behind my head, using the walls to light up the tight area. SkyRise4 RIC is one of our favorite institutions and we’re proud to have been working with them for so many years. I want to send a big thank you to our friend and photographer, Sabina Cavalli who joined us again this year. Catherine’s brother Paul was also in town and came along to help carry gear and run errands. SkyRise5

Model Shoot

Often, while I’m searching for old records in various garage sales and antique shops, we also run across unique vintage objects that we stockpile for later projects. For this fashion photoshoot in Plano, IL we had the opportunity to use a few wonderful pieces. The vintage dress was found in a combo retro clothes/used record store in Davenport, Iowa called Trash Can Annie’s. The beautiful striped briefcase was a five dollar find at an estate sale. Even the old bike with the perfect chrome fenders was a $20 steal at a fundraiser sale in Oswego, IL.Naperville model We’d like to say thanks to our model Kristen, a great local girl that we met about six months ago. Hair and makeup was done by the always awesome Jennifer Price at Zano’s Salon. Naperville modelNaperville modelNaperville model